Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Polymer Physics

Andrew Sun in his blog at nature.com comments on the Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics [*], its lack of impact and polymer physics in general, most of which I am puzzled by.

The first point made is that the impact factor for Part B of the journal isn't growing as fast as it is for Part A (Polymer Chemistry). O.k., fine. I won't quibble with the numbers. But his conclusion for this data is then this:
"Somewhat coincidentally, RSC launched a new journal Polymer Chemistry this year, whereas there has been no new journal for polymer physics. These are some loose evidence of the declining of polymer physics research I have long felt about."
But the RSC launched "Soft Matter" back in 2005 and that journal is doing quite well. Certainly the journal is not purely about polymer physics, but when the first word in the title is a physical descriptor, it is hard to state that physics is being ignored.

If the impact factor is not keeping up with its sister journal, I would look for alternate reasons, not that the subject is dying.

What is most surprising about the conclusion is that the largest applications for polymers are for their physical properties, not their chemical properties. To suggest that polymer physics is dead is akin to that famous patent examiner that stated that everything was already invented and the patent office should think of closing down.

[*] I know, what a mouthful for a title. The journal originally started as just the Journal of Polymer Science, but got so big that it was split into a chemistry part and a physics part. For a while, there even used to be a Part C: Polymer Letters Edition. I remember as I was published in both Parts B and C. Yes, I am that old.

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